CHANDLER More than a month after 2-year-old Kelsey Smith-Briggs died, family, friends and strangers are coping with her death by calling attention to child-abuse prevention.
Nearly 50 adults and children gathered Monday afternoon outside the Lincoln County Courthouse to peacefully protest a system they say failed the toddler. They circled the block carrying signs, wearing buttons and talking about the girl's tragic death.
Kelsey died Oct. 11 after her stepfather allegedly hit her in the abdomen. Other signs of abuse, including broken bones, had been documented repeatedly. Stepfather Michael Lee Porter, 25, has been charged with first degree murder.
Eighth-grader Kaitlin Cruise, 14, was in town with her father when she saw the protest forming on the courthouse sidewalks. The Chickasha girl, wearing a blue jacket and a tight ponytail, read the signs and asked if she could carry one, too.
"It's so sad that little kids get abused like that, Cruise said. "She didn't have that long to live.
Kelsey's case upsets Martin Toten, who drove 80 miles to participate in the protest: "Every time I've seen that little girl on TV, I cry.
The Chickasha man heard about the rally on the radio, and made the trip with friend Denis Dickinson. Dickinson said that as a parent, he wants to send a message that abuse is unacceptable.
Shirley Singleton of Nicoma Park took the day off work at Tinker Air Force Base to come to Chandler. The grandmother said she's been following the case since Kelsey's death.